No Change for Space as Federal Government Releases Budget

The Federal government released the budget today and to no ones surprise it contained few changes from the budget released on March 22nd before the election. In fact for the space sector there were no changes in the slightly revised budget. What does this mean for the sector?

It means that the scheduled review of the Aerospace Policy and Programs proposed in the March 22nd budget will go ahead.

Highlights of the budget we already knew about include:

  • A Review of Aerospace Policy and Programs Canada’s aerospace sector is a global technology leader and a major source of high-quality jobs. The Government will conduct–through a consultative process involving the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada and their member firms–a comprehensive review of all policies and programs related to the aerospace/space industry to develop a federal policy framework to maximize the competitiveness of this export-oriented sector and the resulting benefits to Canadians. This review will be coordinated with the ongoing Review of Federal Support Research and Development.

The Government has made substantial, successful investments to leverage private sector investment in this important, high-tech and growing sector of our economy. To build on these successes, the Government will ensure that stable funding is provided for the Strategic Aerospace and Defence Initiative through this 12-18 month consultative review, and examine options for continuing the level of funding thereafter.”

  • The government will expand the Canada Excellence Research Chairs by investing another $53.5 million over 5 years to support the creation of 10 new Canada Excellence Research Chairs. As well the government will spend $12 million over 5 years for a Canada-India Research Centre of Excellence.
  • The budget provides $3 million in 2011-12 and $5 million per year on a permanent basis starting in 2012-13 to the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) to support 30 new Industrial Research Chairs at colleges.

The budget allocates a further $12 million over five years, starting in 2011-12, to NSERC’s Idea to Innovation program to support joint college-university research and development projects with promising commercialization potential.

  • The Perimeter Institute of Theoretical Physics will receive $50 million over five years beginning in 2012-1013 to support its research, education and public outreach activities. As well Federal funding for this initiative will be matched by resources raised from the Institute’s other partners.

What we don’t know is whether any of the space sector budgets, be it the Canadian Space Agency, DND, Natural Resources etc. will see any cuts going forward. The government has stated it plans to balance the budget a year earlier but to do so will need to cut about $4 billion annually by 2014-2015. Tasked with finding where to cut is Treasury Board President Tony Clement who in the previous government was the Minister for Industry whose portfolio included the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).

Heading into the new fiscal year the Canadian Space Agency was estimating expenditures of $424.6 million in 2011-2012 an 8.7% increase or $33.9 million more than the previous year. However the CSA was still waiting on approval by Parliament for this years budget.

About Marc Boucher

Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef Interactive LLC. Boucher has 20+ years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 30 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.

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